OP-ED: Coal Dispute: Much Ado About Nothing


By Darrel Carey


Once again we see the new population of Oakland attempting to run the political and economic agenda of Oakland and specifically, in this case, that of the West Oakland community.


While new ideas and different opinions are welcome and add to the fabric of our city and community, we cannot allow outside efforts and agendas to saturate and dilute existing and longstanding community needs and opinions.


The Sierra Club has been organizing around the issue of not allowing coal to be exported through Oakland.


Has there been an honest and sincere effort on the part of the Sierra Club to learn about this project from those developing the terminal?


Has there been an honest dialogue and exchange of ideas about the proposed activity? Or is this much ado about nothing?


A newly formed Oakland based company has the rare opportunity to establish itself on the former Oakland Army Base to export numerous bulk commodities, including coal. This is consistent with current EPA and CEQA regulations as required by the City.


Coal is a commodity exported to many developing countries that desire to experience just some of the comforts we enjoy and often take for granted here in America.


We think nothing of powering our homes, refrigerating our food, booting up our computers, charging our cell phones (or powering up our electric cars…). Because we are justifiably in the process of advancing toward “renewable energy” sources such as water, wind, and bio-fuels to achieve our power demands, coal is viewed by some as defeating that goal.


Not true…Those developing third world countries are currently using the lowest forms of fossil fuels contributing to far greater pollution and environmental damage than the higher quality coal being exported from the U.S.


Moving toward renewable energy is a long-term process and will take years as the Obama Administration acknowledges in its’ goals.


In the interim, however, coal is a major source of energy for the world and it will continue to be exported through our ports until it is no longer viable.


The commodity terminal being designed and developed by this Oakland firm is seeking to establish itself as the newest and most innovative terminal of its type in the world.


What an opportunity this could be. Recognizing the sincere and valid concerns around the direct impacts of transporting coal, this firm is in the process of designing a terminal that protects the community during rail car transport, during terminal storage, and during actual transfer to ships.


Targeting this firm or any effort to move toward innovation is just wrong. There is an opportunity here for Oakland to do something different and innovative. This is an opportunity for Oakland to create jobs and greater economic benefit for our community.


I would challenge our community and city leaders to think progress.


There are many opportunities and issues on which we can partner with the Sierra Club and others in an attempt to save us from global warming.


This is not that issue.


Let’s look at the potential benefits and work to help create a state of the art environmentally safe facility. Let’s look at the contracts and jobs that will be created for Oakland residents.


Let’s look at making Oakland and our community a leader and model in this effort.


Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s not create much ado about nothing.


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